Here is another story with numbers, but no context. Los Angeles Times has an article with the alarmist headline “Russians are leaving the country in droves”. Apparently, about 125,000 Russians are emigrating annually. Unfortunately, the author does not make it clear whether this number constitutes the net flow of people. Are there Russians returning to the country at a comparable rate? Is there substantial immigration into Russia, let’s say, from Belarus or Kazakhstan? It is impossible to say whether Russia is really losing much of its population without considering the inflow as well as the outflow.
It is quite difficult to judge the reliability of numbers, when statements such as “Experts believe that 100,000 to 150,000 people now leave the country annually” gets used without saying who these experts are. Still, let’s give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that this number is reliable and that it represents the net flow. 125,000 is a large number of people, but it is still less than 0.1% of Russia’s population. Is it really that big a deal? It is difficult to say without context. It would be nice to know of other countries with similar emigration rates in the past and whether their economies have suffered as a result. Without such context, it just looks like a quick lashing against Putin government.